Click here for your personal invitation from Mary.
It’s time to bring some fall color to Virginia-Highland’s main intersection. Please join me and other interested volunteers at 1 PM on Sunday, October 27 at the triangle park space in front of Taco Mac.
Bring trowels, gloves and a bottle of water, if you have them. If not, we will provide them. We will do some light maintenance and plant some beds of pansies and kale. Stay for as long as you want. Come help us make your community center a beautiful place to spend time.
Questions or suggestions? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Lauren Wilkes Fralick, VHCA Parks Committee
A general clean up of the triangle island at Virginia and N. Highland avenues, including some light maintenance and flower planting, is scheduled for this Sunday May 5 and organizers are looking for volunteers to help.
Volunteers should meet at the triangle this Sunday at 1 pm and bring garden gloves (if you have them) and a water bottle. No RSVP is necessary. Contact organizer Nonie Daniels at email@example.com with questions, comments or suggestions.
Music was provided by Darin Seldes and his son Max, local merchant the indie-pendant had a crafts and games table for kids, and balloons were provided by ReMax Intowners (Sandy d’Aprile, Peter Bade and Julie Sadlier).
City officials were on hand to congratulate park organizers for their vision and commitment to fund-raising that led to this weekend’s grand opening.
Here’s a link to an online album with photos from the event. Scroll down for some of the day’s best photos.
And click here to learn more about how two vacant lots at the corner of N. Highland Ave. and St. Charles Pl. – where a public library once stood – became VaHi’s third public green space.
The land purchased by the Virginia-Highland Civic Association at the corner of North Highland Avenue and St. Charles Place is now an incredible rain garden/green space for the community to enjoy! Please join your neighbors for a celebration of this tremendous achievement on Saturday, March 16th, Noon to 2 PM.
The event will feature:
- Dedication of the new park!
- Music by VaHi musician Darin Seldes and his son!
- Picnic lunch (bring your own or buy for $5 adults/$2 kids). Osteria 832 will provide a delicious pasta lunch, and Atkins Park will provide dessert!
- Kids activities, including games and art projects. Crafts provided by local merchant, the indie-pendent!
- Balloons will be provided for kids by ReMax Intowners!
The event will be a grand celebration by the Virginia-Highland Civic Association and the many neighbors who supported the creation of this wonderful new park. We’re expecting sunny skies and temps in the 70’s so come help celebrate the park and the arrival of Spring in VaHi!
Special Offer from Ten Thousand Villages
In support of the new park’s dedication, local merchant Ten Thousand Villages is donating 10% of proceeds to the new park from customers who make a purchase any time during the month of March AND present one of the following:
- Ten Thousand Villages ad on page 6 of the March Atlanta INtown paper
- Announcement to Ten Thousand Villages email subscribers
- In-store flyer
Piedmont Park expansion continues at the park’s far northern end near Ansley Mall. This phase of expansion comes after completion of a 26-acre expansion in 2011 that included two dog parks, the Greensward Promenade plaza and fountains, and the Six Spring Wetlands. The past two years has given the park conservancy time to raise additional funds for this year’s expansion.
The additional 53 acres to be added this year include Piedmont Commons, The Northwoods and Piedmont Gardens (see map). Challenges include “excavating industrial waste, whacking away gnarly masses of invasive kudzu, breaking up concrete creek beds, shoring up erosion and helping build a new utility and irrigation infrastructure” in the Piedmont Commons area.
Read the full story at Midtown Patch
Park Pride announced last month it was awarding a $50,000 matching funds grant to the Friends of John Howell Park for improvements to the west side of the park, including the volleyball courts and sidewalk. The project will take place over the next year and a half. The Friends of John Howell group will begin fundraising efforts immediately to raise the remainder of the funds needed to match the grant. If you are interested in getting involved with the Friends of John Howell Park group please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here for a Patch article with more information on the grant.
Have you stopped by and checked out New Highland Park lately (corner of N. Highland and St. Charles)? If not, you should. Park construction is almost complete and it’s a great place to stroll through, stop to read or have lunch, practice soccer with your child, or just sit and enjoy the beauty that is VaHi in the fall. Here’s a link to an online album showing how a pair of undeveloped lots became VaHi’s latest green space in only a few months.
The land is owned by the Virginia-Highland Conservation League, Inc. It was purchased as part of a long-term plan to create green space in the Atkins Park area and to help revitalize the Atkins Park business node. Funds for construction of the new park came from three years of local fundraising efforts, including the “buy a brick” program and a $50,000 grant from Park Pride. Park organizers are very grateful to Park Pride and all the neighbors and nearby businesses that have made generous contributions. Funding to cover the mortgage payments comes from VHCA events like Summerfest and the Tour of Homes, and the VHCL will be seeking additional grants in 2013 and beyond to help reduce the loan balance, which is currently about $660,000. We appreciate your support in these efforts.
Work remaining on the new park includes:
– Installation of three light poles, scheduled for week of December 3.
– Installation of three benches and additional trash cans, scheduled for late December or early January
– Final connection of the water meter
– Completion of a few “punch-list” items and some additional plantings
Special note for those who purchased engraved bricks and for those who donated as “founders” ($1000 or more) for the new park:
The bricks will be integrated into the sidewalk area at the St. Charles entrance. Engraving has just completed, and the bricks will be installed probably within the next few weeks and certainly before the grand opening/ribbon cutting next year. The exact date for the grand opening/ribbon cutting is to be determined, but is likely to be in late February or March. The city has requested another drawing before permitting the install of the bricks. The founders plaque is “in process” and will be installed before the grand opening. Stay tuned for details on the grand opening/ribbon-cutting to be held in the first quarter of 2013!
The long-awaited BeltLine Eastside Trail will be officially dedicated in an October 15 ceremony recognizing the generous donors who made the trail possible.
The ceremony will take place on the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail next to the Historic Fourth Ward skate park (830 Willoughby Ln., Atlanta, 30312). Parking locations are TBD. Organizers are encouraging attendees to walk or bike to the event.
Click here for more information as it becomes available.
After nearly four years of fund-raising, designing, permit applications and contractor selection, construction began in mid-September on the new park at N. Highland Ave. and St. Charles Place. Read more about plans for the new park here.
For those not able to stop by and see the progress as its made, we thought we’d publish a few photos so you can see how things are shaping up. Construction activity continued last week with the installation of custom concrete caps on top of the granite columns along N. Highland, the laying of sod throughout the park’s interior, and installation of native plants along the new pathway, on top of the bio-retention pond and in the area to the east of the granite seating wall. Two picnic tables have been installed near the sidewalk along N. Highland. Our tremendous new green space is actually becoming reality.
We’ve posted a few recent photos below. Click here to view an album of all pictures taken since park construction began. We’ll provide additional updates as progress continues.
Comments Solicited for Proposed Improvements
It has been a busy and productive year on the Virginia-Highland Civic Association Parks Committee. Forming a new committee, coordinating with the City Parks Department, addressing challenges at the corner of Virginia and N. Highland, and doing a long-overdue comprehensive analysis of what was working and not working at John Howell Park have made for a very active spring and summer. In each of these efforts, we’ve had tremendous support from a variety of volunteers – experienced and new – and professionals. We’re excited to report on what’s been done thus far and what lies in front of us, and we need your ideas, thoughts, and support, particularly at John Howell Park.
The year began in winter with the establishment of a new committee – John Becker, Lauren Wilkes Fralick, Laura Voisinet, and Jack White – and the repair of a half-dozen damaged benches in the Streetscape near our namesake intersection. Several benches there had lost a significant number of slats from their back frames, and several more were about to do the same. One of the causes was a mortise and tendon joint that could have been stronger. The bench manufacturer shared our disappointment that the benches’ strength was less than expected and provided new backs at cost and additional metal braces for free. Those were installed, but as an extra measure of support, the craftsman making the repairs – Gary Jones, recommended to us by the woodworking crew at Highland Hardware – added new reinforcement strips along the backs of all the benches and the fronts of several others in high-use locations. The results have been excellent so far; the new backs will soon age to grey to match the original parts, this design is significantly stronger than the original, and the cost of bringing every bench up to this standard was less than the price of even three new benches. The visual and functional improvements were obvious, and feedback and results thus far has been excellent.
Of course, no design will withstand deliberate abuse, so if you see any such behaviors, please call the police and let us know.
An even more dramatic change at this same corner was VaHi resident Nonie Daniel’s design and supervised volunteer installation of a planting in the Triangle in front of Taco Mac’s, in and around the Virginia-Highland sign. Nonie is a longtime resident of the neighborhood; her professional landscaping skills have been on display for many years at the corner of Hudson and Lanier. At the Triangle she created a lovely mix of perennials and annuals, with a lot of different colors and textures and led an enthusiastically-supported planting effort and a carefully-monitored ongoing watering plan. This formerly drab space is now lovely and peaceful-looking. There will be additional work there this fall; like all successful planting sites – especially public ones – ongoing maintenance is part of the project.
It would be easy to underplay the importance of Nonie’s establishing a support team of volunteers who are invested in the work at the Triangle and provide a host of eyes upon the results. This model has been wildly successful over the last decade at Orme Park, where a vigilant and enduring band of neighbors and enthusiasts have been instrumental in the redesign and remaking of that park. That sort of organized support is critical to the success of neighborhood parks; helping that happen in all our public spaces is a major goal of the new Parks Committee.
With Orme functioning well and the Triangle humming along under Nonie’s direction, the preponderance of our effort has been directed to John Howell – which is appropriate, because (as several citizens have pointed out, in thoughtful detail), it needed it. This park holds a special place in this neighborhood’s heart and history. It sits upon land redeemed from the successful early 70’s highway fight that saved and defined this community. (The VHCA was created specifically 40 years ago to fight the road.) It is named for and is a tribute to the vision and courage of neighborhood resident (and VHCA President) John Howell, whose early work in leading and establishing the fight against AIDS made him a revered figure far beyond the boundaries of this city. And it’s the site of the Cunard Playground, which memorializes the three members of that Virginia-Highland family who were killed in a tragic accident nearly a decade ago.
Constructed on two levels, it is our largest and most-visited park; its lower half contains two separate playgrounds, two volleyball courts (that also serve as the city’s largest children’s sandboxes when not used for sport), two small grassy areas, and winding walkways. The upper half (the part nearer Barnett) was designed with lawns and larger open areas to allow assemblies and quieter sitting and strolling spaces away from the oft-busier and noisier lower one.
The neighborhood and civic association put a huge amount of effort and money into establishing the park, but very little has been spent there for the last half-decade, with obvious and painful results. The Parks Committee began by repeatedly walking through and talking to users about what they liked and didn’t, what they’d change, and – curiously – where they were from. All the responses were informative and interesting; we met tons of neighbors and folks we knew, but we were also surprised by the number of people that travel from distant neighborhoods to play there and the variety of distinct groups that use the area at different times and days. The enthusiasm for the park displayed by lots of people and ages was fortifying and great to hear.
And we needed to hear it, because the more time we spent with citizens, potential contractors and landscape professionals, the longer the list of challenges became. It included – take a deep breath – the need for long overdue pruning of the original plantings, the removal of numerous invasives and volunteer-installed plants (some in odd and inappropriate locations), the need to stabilize and replace several sections of fence, address broken light globes, replace missing bricks, clean and sand benches covered with mold, repurpose a granite box that once served as a sandbox but had become a litter box, fix eroding and unplanted banks along Virginia, re-establish grassy areas that had not been fertilized or aerated for years and were filled with a variety of weeds, mulch trees and plantings, and address the highly-visible challenge of either re-planting – or changing to a path – an eroding gully functioning as a dry-weather connection between the two levels.
Around the volleyball courts, there are more challenges. Sand spilling unchecked from the courts onto Arcadia makes planting on that side impossible; the same situation exists at the back of the first court, where sand migrates freely up to and through the fence. Also problematic is the absence of good delineation between the volleyball courts and the adjacent playground; children not infrequently are on the volleyball side of the granite wall and bumpers during warm-up and play, a situation that makes no one happy.
We found good news, too – lots of supportive citizens willing to volunteer time and money, and knowledgeable contractors (even the ones we didn’t wind up using) who thought the park was fundamentally beautiful and offered useful suggestions. The City of Atlanta Parks Department is and has been helpful and enthusiastic, even though we and they wish that their overall budget – particularly on infrastructure issues like leaky water lines and electrical work – was larger. Their maintenance crews have been thoughtful and communicated well with us. Challenges abound and will continue, but their effort – particularly at carefully not cutting the grass so low – has been great. The Parks Director, Doug Voss, and Design Director, Paul Taylor, could not have been more supportive.
Another key partner in this area has been Volleyball Atlanta, the group that built and has maintained the courts from day one. Reconnecting with them was critical to make sure that any changes meet their needs and in having them as a partner in fundraising for work on that end of the park. Lauren Wilkes Fralick has spent a huge amount of time on this, with excellent results.
Our contractor, Walter Bland of Rock Springs Farm, is a knowledgeable and experienced professional with particular expertise in native plants and horticulture. His crews have done an excellent job reacting to unexpected challenges under variable conditions.
Quarterbacking all this has been the park’s original landscape architect, Peter Frawley, who lives nearby and is also the designer at New Highland Park. Peter’s knowledge of the park’s original design goals has been a key in this, both in contemplating solutions and in evaluating and validating the priorities and perspectives offered by various contractors.
Here’s the way we approached it. With Peter and Walter’s guidance, we divided the list into short-term and long-term projects. We first addressed as many as possible of what we identified as park ‘quality of life’ issues: pruning, mulching (still underway, as fast as the city can get chips to the park), relocating maverick plantings, sanding, sealing, and cleaning benches (still underway, with some easily visible results), fixing broken bricks and undercut sidewalks and the worst sections of fence (nothing easy about it), removing invasive plants, and planting the littered and abandoned planter. We also aerated, fertilized, and removed weeds from the grassy areas, to see and support what useable lawn was still there, and to set the stage and to define the scope of what we needed to do on the lawns this fall.
While these efforts to protect and enhance John Howell’s existing features (planted and built) have been underway, the Parks Committee has been working with Peter and Volleyball Atlanta on some potential solutions to the long-range challenges. They do not represent any fundamental changes to the park’s original master plan, but some of them will be noticeable, particularly around the volleyball court. The city is very much in the loop; all of the ideas – there are likely to be more as we hear from more users – have been vetted through the Parks Department. We didn’t want to spend time discussing ideas in the neighborhood only to discover later that Parks had objections. They had some useful comments, but are fine with the concepts.
A more detailed plan view of them is available on the web site here:
And here’s a brief summary of the more notable changes:
Around the volleyball courts and along Arcadia:
1. Need: Sand spilling off the court through the fence onto Arcadia, making planting impossible and smothering trees.
2. Need: Sand spilling off the rear of the court onto the walkway, making planting impossible.
Response: Move the court nearest Arcadia 10’ toward Virginia Avenue. Remove the existing fence and ugly sandbags and replace with a u-shaped granite sitting wall around 3 sides of the court nearest Arcadia, with a new fence atop it. The granite wall will contain the sand; plantings can be installed behind them. The new fence will be about 18’ from the curb on Arcadia; there should be room for plantings and a new sidewalk connecting to Virginia Avenue, if we want that. The new fence atop the wall (with the same net currently in use) will contain more volleyballs.
3. Need: There is insufficient separation between the volleyball courts and playground.
Response: Extend the existing granite wall on both ends; install appropriate plantings around the existing light pole, for shade and delineation purposes. When the courts are empty, children can still walk around the extended wall to access the sand, but the break between the two areas will be clearer. An additional new sandbox can be installed on the lightly-trafficked piece of the playground walkway on the end nearest Virginia, if desired.
4. Need: A second fence along Virginia to catch errant volleyballs that clear the first fence and go into traffic. There’s room for the fence, but the JHP sign would be behind it.
Response: Peter had suggested moving that sign in any case, and Parks Department concurs. Install a new wrought iron fence to match the once across the street at Inman between the easing columns. Raise those columns slightly, if needed. Move the sign toward the now more-spacious corner, where it will be more visible and can be part of a design that includes a formal planting of annuals and perennials to match a similar planned for the Barnett corner.
5. Need: The upper-level banks above the sidewalk along Virginia Ave. are barely planted and often used as a pedestrian shortcut. It’s hard to keep mulch or pine straw there; when events are held, those doing set-up and teardown often use the hillsides instead of the walkways.
Response: Install low granite curbs along the sidewalks to hold the soil, and plant appropriately. Monitor access during growth and events until the plantings are established. A wrought iron fence would work too, even a low one.
6. Need: The upper level walkway is partly bricked and partly not.
Response: Sell and install inscribed bricks there, bringing closure to a project initiated a decade ago and giving another generation of citizens a chance to be memorialized in the park.
7. Need: There’s an eroding gully between the upper and lower level that conveys water and silt in rainstorms and is frequently used as a shortcut, though it can be slippery and tough to walk on.
Response: Citizens appear to be voting with their feet for a pedestrian connection here, and many interviewed users were supportive of the option. Install granite steps; connect them to the existing upper walkway via stepping stones amidst low plantings that will absorb flows. Plant the areas along the sidewalk to absorb water there too.
There are other contemplated changes; these are the major ones, at least in our view. The VHCA web site will have detailed pdfs; links will be readily visible on our home page. There are many ways you can provide input. Landscape architect Peter Frawley will conduct walking tours at 7 PM on Wednesday, July 18th, and Monday, July 23rd. Parks Co-Chairs Lauren Wilkes Fralick and Jack White will conduct tours at 7:30 AM on Tuesday, July 31st and 9 AM on Saturday, August 4th.. Please come to those if you are interested. You may also write us at email@example.com. If none of those times work for you, let us know. We’re there a lot, and we’ll find a time to meet you.
Your thoughts and concerns are welcome. These ideas are a synthesis of many different observations and ideas, but they are very much notset in stone. Please let us hear from you – what you like and what you don’t, and your new ideas.
“What might all this cost, who will pay for it, when might it happen?”
Good questions, every one. Obviously final costs will depend on whatever plan is adopted. Costs vary with fits and finishes; there are some variables there, but the broad conceptual criteria were that the proposed changes address the known problems, were practical, needs as little maintenance as possible, and were consistent with the park’s overall standards. We went through a similar process at Orme and approved a plan with much broader changes than those currently on the table here without a specific notions of how we’d pay for it; then we costed it (with some options) and went out in search of grants to support it, did fundraising internally, and asked for help from other groups. Some of these solutions stand alone and can be sequentially; some are closely-related and need to be done together.
Searching for specific support requires an approved plan; until you have one, we’re still talking. We think it’s all doable, as it proved to be at Orme. For openers, we’ll look to our colleagues at Park Pride for grant opportunities, possibly as early as this fall if we’re ready; perhaps we can be. Volleyball Atlanta will be going through similar processes to raise money for their part of the changes around the courts.
Many grants require matching funds; we’re hoping that twixt all these parties and citizen volunteers, we can bring some good grant applications with substantive support to the table.
Please write us: firstname.lastname@example.org
For the Parks Committee,
Lauren Wilkes Fralick and Jack White
We’ll be cleaning out and replanting in the granite planter between the playgrounds at John Howell Park this Saturday from 10 AM ’til noon. Please join us – it’ll be fun! For more info, contact email@example.com.
Please join us this Sunday 4/15 at 1 PM at the VaHi Triangle (Virginia-Highland intersection, across from Taco Mac’s) as we install annual and perennial flowers. Most of the plants are in gallon or 4” pots, so there will be no heavy lifting or tilling. Please bring your own gloves, drinking water, and – if have one – a trowel. (We’ll have some extras.)
Questions? Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Nonie at (678) 641-8485.
The Virginia-Highland Civic Association Parks Committee has been talking to a variety of local citizens, park users, and landscape designers about improvements to the park, and we’d like to hear what you think. Please join us Saturday March 10 at 2 PM for a walk around the park and help develop a plan for what the park needs. If you can’t make it tomorrow, there will be other chances, and you can also write us at email@example.com.
Lauren Fralick & Jack White
Friends of John Howell Park
Download PDF here (2.0 MB)
– Summerfest success
– President’s corner: volunteer for the board!
– Safety update: street captains, graffiti removal
– New Highland Park brick purchases
– 2011 Gold List of neighborhood businesses
– Street tree do’s and don’ts
– Patrols expand in VaHi and Old Fourth Ward
– VaHi history book published
– Parks update: Orme and New Highland
– Bella Cucina
– Repairs coming near Chevron and The Cavern
– Garrison Afterschool expands
Download PDF here (7.5 MB)
– Recent accomplishments of VHCA
– Maintaining curb appeal
– Funding received to benefit Orme and New Highland parks
– Rosedale Dr./N. Virginia intersection improvements made
– New businesses (Catalyst, Genki)
– History Part XI
– VaHi Green Dream silent auction
– 15th annual Tour of Homes
– President’s Corner
– SPARK opens its doors
– Spotlight on Grady
– VaHi’s Green Dream
– Spotlight on public safety
– Spotlight on businesses: Atlanta Activewear and Knitch relocates
– City responds to streetscape project concerns
– Col. Mustard reviews George’s
– Update on Callanwolde drainage concerns
Saturday, October 16 at 3 p.m. We’ll work from 3 – 5:30 or 6 p.m. and then have a cookout. Kids from Hillside Hospital have volunteered to help clean the park and they’d love neighbors to participate! Bring your work gloves, clippers, etc. if you have them (if not, we’ll have extras) and then stay to enjoy a cookout! Side dishes are welcome, but mostly, we’d love to see you and your family there! Please contact Pete Bartlewski firstname.lastname@example.org or Dawn Shipp email@example.com with any questions.
We did it! Thanks for everyone’s sweat and tears on Saturday! We had over 400 volunteers help us install the playground equipment, plant the Cunard Memorial Garden, and beautify John Howell Park. Volunteers came from as far away as Seattle, Washington and from Canton, Marietta and Flowery Branch, too! We were especially touched to have Brad’s family come from Monticello and Lisa’s brother from North Carolina.
Each volunteer put his or her whole heart and soul into the assigned tasks and truly made a difference. We know that Brad sends his thanks and appreciation for everyone’s contribution to the project.
We especially would like to thank all of the business that either donated materials, food or goods for our build day. (We’re still compiling the list of generous contributors!)
Virginia-Highland is a great neighborhood and we thank each of you for making it even better!
We look forward to seeing you at the Opening Ceremonies in March 2004 (date to be determined) and at Summerfest on June 5th and 6th !
Cunard Memorial Playground Chair
- Committee updates
Download PDF (1.6 MB)
– Annual meeting brings BIG crowd
– The PATHway for bicycling
– Ponce Task Force has new plan
– School report by Joe Martin, Atlanta School Board
– Recycle today, you can make the difference, by Nan Hunter
– Summerfest ’92 a success! by Beth Marks
– What are we doing to our parks? by David Robertson
– Col. Mustard reviews Everybody’s Restaurant
– Ponce property under discussion (disposal of 6 lots facing Ponce between Barnett and Bonaventure), by Jerry Bright
– Profile of Morningside school, by Mary Joe Peed
– Parks committee needs flower power, by Kathy Couch
– VHCA gets new phone service, by Nyna Gentry
– Murphy’s restaurant update
– Crime statistics
Download PDF (3.0 MB)
- Annual meeting (photo) and results
- America’s Stop Crime Program to speak
- Ponce de Leon Task Force sets goals for Ponce Corridor
- Union Mission will not pursue acquisition of building in 900 block of Ponce
- Neighborhood school achieve many honors
- Friends of the Library
- Pastor of Baptist Church introduces himself
- The Compost Man
- Recycling Update
- Interview with Ed Loring of Open Door on Ponce
- Grassroots effort to improve Ponce
- How I handle a stranger at my door
- Parks and recreation
- Sidewalk repair
- Survey of inexpensive hotels along Ponce
- Neighborhood watch, “if you hear a whistle blowing”
- D.O.T property at St. Charles
- Would a burglar find your home attractive?